Sippin’ On Soup
It’s widely reported that Americans consume more than 10 billion bowls of soup each year — and with good reason. Soups often present an entire lunch or dinner in one bowl, and are some of the most convenient and soul-soothing ways to get a well-rounded, nutritious meal.
Even in warmer climates like ours, we can’t get enough of steaming-hot bowls of saimin, ramen and pho, nor would any trip to our favorite Japanese restaurant be complete without miso soup on the side.
Like most foodies on this island, I am madly in love with all of the above, but I know there’s a whole world of soup varieties out there waiting to be explored. In Poland, for instance, where my parents originally are from, it’s common to begin every dinner with a warm soup, often seasoned with dill.
Here in Hawaii, I’ve set out to find cultural specialties that are healthy, rich in flavor and awesomely authentic. And, as the evenings get cooler and we start to settle into the coziest time of the year, what could be better to warm your spirits than a cup of hot soup?
JADE DYNASTY SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
In China, there is a special soup for every season, and these time-honored recipes often are some of the healthiest you can eat. I stopped by Jade Dynasty — marked by the regal horse at its entrance — earlier this week to try one unique dish in particular.
For a limited time only, the eatery is preparing Steamed Watercress and Pork Soup ($13.95) from scratch. As general manager Gary Chan describes, it is popular to consume as we head into winter because it is known to help your body defend against winter illnesses such as the flu.
The soup is simmered for hours with pork bone, releasing calcium into the broth, and features antioxidant-rich watercress, a sweet touch of carrots and dates, which are good for the throat. Dried apricot kernals and peeled almond seeds, which also have healthful properties, are steeped in the soup as well. Not only can you feel good about nourishing yourself with this selection, but you’ll also love its soothing earthy flavor.
Jade Dynasty has many soups to choose from, so I couldn’t help but also try Dried Scallop Soup with Minced Chicken and Egg ($17.95). The dish resembles egg drop soup, but it’s layered with complexity, thanks to the dried scallop, mushrooms and chicken within. True to Northern-style cuisine, it also has a comforting thick texture.
Jade Dynasty Seafood Restaurant
Ala Moana Center, Hookipa Terrace
1450 Ala Moana Blvd.
MAX’S OF MANILA
When patrons think of Max’s of Manila, they often see visions of golden, crisp fried chicken. But those in the know also cherish the restaurant for its array of hearty Filipino soups.
At both Dillingham and Waipahu locations, Sinigang says signature soup loud and clear. The tangy tamarind masterpiece is presented with a choice of shrimp ($10.25), pork ($10.25), or boneless milkfish belly ($10.95), and it hits both savory and sour notes with a mix of okra, radish, long bean, eggplant, ong choi and tomato.
“Sinigang is the quintessential Filipino soup. It’s (what) tom yum soup is to Thai cuisine,” explains general manager Maly San Luis.
She also points out that Bulalo ($16.95) is worth ordering, as it stems from the South Central region of the Phillipines and features decadent pieces of slow-cooked osso buco beef shanks floating in a clear yet flavor-packed broth. Giving even more sustenance to this peppercorn-seasoned dish are veggies like cabbage, corn on the cob and bok choi.
San Luis adds that many Filipinos enjoy these soups with rice, making them complete — and masarap — meals.
Max’s of Manila
801 Dillingham Blvd., Honolulu
(and in Waipahu)